There are Significant Differences Between Truck Accidents and Car Accidents

Of course, car accidents and truck accidents have a great deal in common – but there are some key differences as well. Let’s first looks at a few of the distinctions between operating a large commercial truck and a passenger car.

The size of the vehicles involved in truck collisions is one of the most notable differences between truck accidents and car accidents. Tractor-trailers weigh from 2,000 pounds on a single axle to 34,000 pounds on a tandem. Loaded 18-wheelers may weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds (40 tons). Meanwhile, the average weight of a passenger vehicle is somewhere between 3,500 and 4,500 pounds – and cars can be as small as 2,000 pounds or less!

Semi-trucks can be 70 to 80 feet long and over 13 feet in height. They need 40 percent more time to stop than a passenger car and four times the average road width to make a turn.

Second, passenger vehicles have 100 to 200 horsepower and 100 to 200 pounds of torque. Semi-trucks dwarf those numbers. On average a semi-truck has 400 to 600 horsepower and 1 to 2 thousand pounds of torque. Semi-trucks, big rigs and 18-wheelers are just more powerful vehicles on the roads compared to a standard passenger vehicle.

Third, truck drivers have additional rules and regulations placed on them while driving. For example, there is a set length of time a driver can be behind the wheel without rest. They also must have specialized training and carry a specific classification of driver’s license.

Fourth, there are equipment issues that could play a role in the crash. Big rigs and semi-trucks without a trailer attached handle much differently, making the vehicles much more dangerous. Tractor-trailers have dual tires and if one tire fails, it can affect the handling. In addition, the trailer may get ahead and contact the tractor causing a jack-knife accident.

Finally, truck drivers also have stringent regulations for driving under the influence and traffic infractions. The legal limit of intoxication is lower for semi-truck drivers. Driver’s are also subject to strict reviews or their record and infractions could jeopardize their license.


When a large truck like an 18-wheeler crashes into a car, damages will be high. Injuries and costs are more likely to be severe than in the case of two cars crashing. Not only does it the make the likelihood of extensive damage from a truck higher, but it also increases the risk for serious injuries like paralysis, loss of limb, head injury, and even death. There are many more factors in why a trucking company may be at fault for a collision. The preservation of evidence like the vehicle itself and the hiring of experts play a larger role in truck accident cases.

Contact California truck accident attorney Michael Beliz today for a free consultation!